Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Media Injustice

I've been following the MSM and blogosphere coverage of the Annie Le murder. If you haven't been, the short story is that Annie Le, a Yale University grad student went from missing to dead over the course of a few days. They found her body in the wall of the University lab she'd been working in on the day she was supposed to get married. In a word: Awful. But there's something else that's awful that isn't getting any media coverage that I've come across.

Anyone remember Richard Jewell? He was the 1996 Summer Olympic Games security officer who's name and photo were dragged through the mud by the media before he was convicted of having anything to do with the bombing. As far as I know, Jewell unsuccessfully sued for slander, libel and defamation. The courts ruled that Jewell had to prove actual malice on the part of the media defendants which, naturally, he was unable to do. So you have a man who had to suffer the scarlet letter consequence of being convicted of a crime on TV and the national newspapers but had no recourse.

Now I don't know whether the Yale lab tech who was picked up last night killed Annie Le. For the purposes of this blog post it doesn't really matter. What matters is that by this morning I had seen his name and likeness sprawled all over the MSM -- BEFORE the AP released a statement saying that the suspect has now been released and the police no longer believe he's their man.

Talk about civil injustice. Where are his rights? Do suspects in high profile cases have any? What are they entitled to? Glenn Greenwald...Andrew Sullivan? Anyone?

I hear crickets chirping.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Frame Game

Nevermind that Medicare will be bankrupt in a decade. Nevermind that more than 60% of personal bankruptcies in America are a result of unaffordable medical expenses for people who actually HAVE decent coverage. Nevermind our appalling rates of infant mortality.

These Progressive arguments are plainly ineffective when you are dealing with a sizable portion of the population who thrive on fear and hatred. They want Obama to fail, at any cost.
We finally have an intelligent person in the White House yet he's been unable to separate himself from special interest groups or prove to his base that he's going to deliver on his campaign promises and implement REAL change. Sadly, as of this posting Obama's base has done little to stand down the belligerent, inflammatory, wildly misinformed crowds that heckle our Congressional leaders. We hurl snark at them in Facebook groups and chortle in tweets at how ignorant their assertions are.

But, riddle me this: If they are so ridiculous why are they winning? They have succeeded in making any true health care reform unlikely and unless Obama can pull his shit together last minute and somehow pen a speech to end all speeches come next week - he's going down with the rest of the Dems.

The Framing is the Name of the Game.

Despite all of his genius rhetorical skills Obama exhibited during the election -- as well as having what appeared to be a politically-savvy team behind him to rebuke the feeble attempts of the smarmy GOP to re-ignite their flailing party -- this administration has failed to bring about any significant change in the first, arguably most important, few months of being at the mantle. This is when the so-called political capital is at its height and it could be squandered in a month's time.

The Right has been able to create a solid front and frame their protests to smack down any facts before they take flight. Sure, we've been solid at condescending. Remember those Teabaggers?! What a bunch of asshats from West Bumblefuck!

But hear this -- we are the foolish. The joke is on us.

They clamored for media attention. They played into America's fascination with train wrecks. And people took note. Americans who don't know that their own beloved free insurance is federally operated flocked to town halls to demand that the government stay away from our health care. This is who we are dealing with.

Obama and his crew used numbers and statistics to appeal to Americans. But Americans don't give a flying fuck about statistics. They want grizzly photos. This is why so many good Christians send money to those poor African children Sally Struthers hawks on informercials. The pictures! The flies swarming their cherub faces.
They want sappy stories thrown in their faces about how their neighbors are going broke because they can't pay their medical bills. They want feverish hyperbole about how our sub par health care makes us a laughing stock in other countries.

Watered down. Trigger. These are not terms we want to hear at this late stage of the game. We want it all and we want it framed in a way that magnifies the importance of getting this bill perfected NOW. Enough of the kowtowing to those in office who clearly don't want to negotiate. Enough of the town hall meetings that have only emboldened the berserkers.

All eyes on next Wednesday. Obama, may the force be with you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mama Drama

Apparently the online feminist community is all atwitter about NYU prof Katie Roiphe's article on Hanna Rosin's site Double X. Maybe it's because I'm not much of a feminist, but I enjoyed this brief piece and can't really see what the hubbub is all about. 

I imagine a better metaphor would be addiction. There is an opium-den quality to maternity leave. The high of a love that obliterates everything. A need so consuming that it is threatening to everything you are and care about. Where did your day go? Did you stare blankly at the baby for hours? And was that staring blankly more fiercely pleasurable, more compelling than nearly anything you have ever done?

One of the minor dishonesties of the feminist movement has been to underestimate the passion of this time, to try for a rational, politically expedient assessment. Historically, feminists have emphasized the difficulty, the drudgery of new motherhood. They have tried to analogize childcare to the work of men; and so for a long time, women have called motherhood a "vocation." The act of caring for a baby is demanding, and arduous, of course, but it is wilder and more narcotic than any kind of work I have ever done.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Otty Sanchez

How Could a Mother Eat Her Own Baby?
The story of Otty Sanchez taps deep veins, unfolding like a Greek tragedy: A new mother breaks with her lover three weeks after giving birth to their child. Insane with grief, she hears voices telling her to kill her baby -- the fruit of their union. After murdering the infant, she begins to consume him, returning him to the body from whence he so recently came. In a moment of clarity she sees what she has done. Horrified, she tries to take her own life, stabbing herself in the heart and slitting her own throat.

I only heard of this yesterday -- and not the whole story.

This article is the first I've read of what happened. It's gruesome and hard to understand how anyone can do this - but that's coming from a woman who does not have mental illness.

Even more questions plague me. Should we not allow those who have been diagnosed with severe mental illness (i.e. those that cause delusions and severe paranoia) to become parents unless they can prove they are continuing to take their prescribed drugs? How does the zigzagging of hormones intensify mental illness and why aren't the physicians doing a better job of monitoring this?

This is a doozy of a case - one straight out of the depths of our worst nightmares - so clearly it's being heavily followed by the media. But could this be more common than we think? Could other less dramatic cases of infanticide being improperly labeled as SIDS or whatever simply because our system of dealing with mental health problems AND (pregnant) women is so flawed?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is Health Care the First Big Test?

I think it is.

Andrew Sullivan wrote something that I think rings true in this, er...every case.

"...disaster is necessary for this country to do anything that might actually work."

So, we get all these weakened policy overhauls that amount to minimal change -- seemingly because modern politics stymie progress. Until healthcare or the economy implodes rather than suffering through slow motion hemorrhages Washington will put band aids on these problems as opposed to dealing with them head on.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cabbage Patch Kid Stank

Long time, no blog.

You know, it's the little things that give me agita.

I'm doing some mindless task like unloading the dishwasher when Big Thoughts come into my head and do some anxiety-producing jig that gets me into a minor tizzy. Today's topic: What if it's the seemingly innocuous scents like Cabbage Patch Kid faux baby powder that are making so many women of my generation sub-fertile?


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Torture, Sigma Pi Style

I'm beginning to think that it's a travesty that Obama has announced that the CIA interrogators will not face justice. Like many I was first struck by the claim that they were acting under orders and that if we were to run up charges against the countless peons who were told to torture these prisoners we might be punishing individuals who under other circumstance wouldn't lift a finger to hurt a fly.

But you know what? I'm now struck by how all of the people involved in this monumental shit storm are like your common Frat Boy. Say what you will about fraternity brothers at AnyCollege USA but the ones I have come across were what my mom would call "The Boy Next Door", probably a lot like the the baby-faced interrogators. They use their perceived innocence as a tool to get others to overlook their questionable behavior. They're the kind who get sweet joy from knocking around dorks in front of other people. The kind who deliberately hurt other people's feelings. The kind who make off-colored remarks about anyone who's different. They always laugh AT, not with. Maybe they aren't hard-assed criminals but they're still assholes. Give an asshole the freedom to do whatever he pleases under the guise of nationalism and what do you get? You get the same guy who gets his rocks off by making other guys chug their body weight in whiskey until they pass out - only now he has a government-sponsored outline of how to waterboard detainees. Welcome to Guantanomo, Sigma Pi style.

I'm a true blue Obama supporter but anything short of a full blown investigation of EVERY person involved in this scandal is a scandal in and of itself.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Big, Strong, Capable Hands

As I follow the current political yammerings about the economic free fall and corresponding water downed stimulus my memory harkens back to September 14, 2001. Americans were wandering around wet eyed; fearful on so many levels. The desire of citizens from every walk of life to do something....anything, was palpable. Our leader at the time took to the streets with bull horn in hand. Never a man of (sensible) words, he mustered up every ounce of swagger in his being and spoke to an exhausted yet inspired crowd of rescue workers. He had some trouble with the horn and someone yelled out, "We can't hear you!". Bush immediately responded, "I can hear YOU!".

The crowd cheered.
It hardly mattered. He had us at hello.

Bush spoke of earned capital after he anchored in his second term in office. I'd argue that he had that capital in the palm of his hands on the days in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and he squandered it.

While "Yes We Can!" had yet to become the lightning bolt phrase it turned into on this year's campaign trail it was certainly a feeling that permeated through a nation hellbent on doing rather than sitting idly by letting a catastrophe get the better of us. We were ready and willing to lend a hand, to donate services, to hunker down...just waiting for our leader to advise us on how we could help.
When our economy faltered in fear in the months following 9/11 we were told to spend. We were frequently told to spend and then spend some more. Some of us thought it was awfully ironic that a so-called conservative administration was acting like a six year old given free reign at a Toys r Us. But we did what we were told. Like sheep. Sheep who came upon deals too good to be true but got caught up in the American Dream of home ownership. Mortgage companies didn't put a gun to our heads but isn't the view from this bay window leading out to 3/4 of an acre purty? Think you can't afford it? Well, maybe if we finagle this number here and make it so that you can afford it now and MAYBE you can afford it in 5 years if nothing God forbid strikes your family in the meantime. But wait...we were told to spend! My job is secure and my kids are healthy, if not vibrantly so. So I'm stealing from Peter to pay Paul with credit cards jacked up with interest rates of 25%. It'll work itself out. I hope it'll work itself out.

But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes having no regulation when you're dealing with money is a very, very bad thing. We didn't self-regulate and neither did our government and now we're both screwed.

It's a new dawn, a new day. We have a young man in charge with a new brand of swagger reminiscent of the best men of long ago generations. This man, unlike his successor, is a wordsmith at heart. His intelligence is magnificent and his ability to generate excitement is unprecedented. At this crossroads in history an American President, once again, has us in the palm of his hands.
This is why it's so deeply regrettable that the stimulus package, as it stands now, is bereft of real change. One of its main goals is to increase confidence in the market. Right now Wall Street is wringing its hands in worry and Main Street is focused on making ends meet. Not a lot of confidence anywhere. It seems that those at the helm are intent on using bipartisanship as a way to signal an end to politics as usual. It's a beaut of a theory but in reality it appears that extreme ideologies have no interest in budging, even if it means shitty days are about to get even shittier.
What I wonder is why there aren't more clever ideas on the table for this package. Here we're supposed to have the brightest men and women trading ideas, banging heads, spending their newfound liberally-bent capital and their big idea is to build new schools?
Bravo to that, for sure, but COME ON! What about rail lines and big tax breaks for only those who invest in green technology? How about something like another World's Fair? It would employ hundreds of thousands and stimulate the economy the way only a vast outside shopping mall might.
I don't see it as either or. Why can't one be a centrist AND forward-thinking? With all that's at stake the stimulus should be unlike anything we've ever seen - broad and awe-inspiring, not weak and underwhelming.

I want to believe we are now in big, strong, capable hands but there's an image gnawing at me.
It's the Rockbiter from the 1980s fantasy flick The Neverending Story. This giant yet gentle creature was sure he'd be able to hold onto his miniature friends when The Nothing made its way through Fantasia. What happened instead was one of the saddest parts of the entire movie.

They look like big, good, strong hands. Don't they?

I always thought that's what they were. My little friends. The little man with his racing snail, the Nighthob, even the stupid bat. I couldn't hold on to them. The nothing pulled them right out of my hands. I failed.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Redistribute, Baby, Redistribute!

Here's how the Yahoo News Feeder appears right now:

• Economy shrinks 3.8 percent; biggest drop in almost 27 years
• Exxon Mobil breaks its own record with $45.2 billion profit
• Obama slams $18 billion in Wall Street bonuses as 'shameful'

Where's the headline saying,
"The rich are STILL getting richer. Those poor assholes who are now unemployed or underemployed? Hold on! We'll just throw money around until something sticks. Remain calm and please don't kill yourself and your entire family."

So many folks seem to worship Reagan. Isn't he the guy who made trickle down economics famous by cutting taxes for the wealthiest few? See how that's been working for our society? Not so much.

The argument that these rich folks work hard for their vast amounts of wealth is bullshit. Somehow I don't think that if you matched up these fat cat Exxon Mobil executives with a blue collar worker you'd say the former is busting his ass so hard he needs to be compensated millions. Sure, these execs have stress. Stress is relative though. They might be stressed because that Eames armchair doesn't come in powder blue to color coordinate with their house in the Hamptons. The blue collar worker is afraid his sick wife won't be able to go to the doctor because he can't afford the copay AND groceries for the week. Different kinds of stress, don't you think?

Saying this greed is shameful is like saying filling a cavity without Novocaine hurts for a second. Woefully inadequate for the severity of the situation. How about some real reform? How about doing away with tax cuts and tax loopholes for the billionaires - not just admonishing them. Take back these fat cat bonuses and use that money to stimulate the economy. Distribute it to those who have nothing but work their asses off. No one should have more than they can use in a lifetime while so many struggle to survive.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Say What?!

People still have rabbit ears for their TVs?


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tagging Ad Nauseam

The other day a dear friend commented on how Facebook is both wonderful and evil. I can see her point - there's something extremely gratifying about locating old friends (or even simple acquaintances), seeking out a friend request, waiting for its arrival and then holding your breath to see if they'll comment on how you haven't aged a bit in the fifteen years it's been since you last saw each other.

There is a flip side, however, to this giant virtual reunion. It can get a little dicey when former loves are found, especially for people who currently reside in a state of existential crisis. So much more can be said in an email than on the phone or in person. Mouths and telephones don't have nifty delete buttons like keyboards do. There's something inherent with email that allows people to be incredibly daring, to seem infinitely more cool than they ever would face to face. And this can spell trouble.

But what really interests me is that my generation will undoubtedly be the last to have this unique experience of googling old flames, former best friends or incommunicado relatives. We're all so tune in now, so open to sharing every aspect of our dull lives online that it will be nearly impossible to remain anonymous in the years to come. Six degrees of separation has been chunked in half by the advent and popularity of social networking sites and it will make the old adage "keep in touch" obsolete.